Today is Mother's Day and is I would like to study and celebrate the phenomenon of a mother's faith.
A MOTHER’S LOVE
Now we know that a mother's faith is born out of a mother's love, and I know in my case my mother's love is to a large part the reason I stand before you today.
Many a night as a teenager I went out and my mum’s prayers protected and sustained me. She prayed and protected me from my own stupid decisions and actions. And the grace of God got me out of some difficult situations. I'm sure most of you can relate to something like that.
But your mum may not be a Christian, and your upbringing may not have been part of your salvation experience. I mean, you may not even like your mum. You might have wished you were born into slavery rather than your family, but mums, today is the day we want to make it right for your kids!
We know what love is, or at least we think we do, but how many of us know that a mother's love for her children is something very special. But when we discuss love, English is a poor way to do it.
Think about it… I love my wife, I love the Broncos. I love my mum, I love Vegemite! Love in English is so universal and misused isn't it? I mean, we talk about “making love” when often the two parties don't love each other at all and they are using and abusing each other for sex. That's not love, folks! In the movies or in real life.
So to understand a mother's love, let's have a look at the 4 Greek words for love…
IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME!
Not used in the Bible, it refers to love, empathy or affection for something, mainly family members. “I don't like him, but I guess I have to love him!” The same word is used in loving your country or a sporting team. Or Vegemite.
This is sexual love, from which we get the term erotic. Plato suggested that it also applies to attraction without the expression of sex, leading to the term platonic to refer to non sexual relationships.
Affectionate regard or intimate friendship is referred to as philia, and it denotes loyalty, friendship and brotherly love. I'm guessing this approximates our concept of mateship.
This is the highest form of love or charity, the type God has for man, and embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends and serves unconditionally regardless of circumstances. It is not affected by whether it is returned or not, it is unconditional love. Usually this is reserved for God's love for us, but not always.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Interestingly, though storge fits for family love, a mother’s love is often referred to, especially in great acts of exceptional motherly love and charity as agape. It's the unconditional, unassailable, undefeatable, love that is independent of anything you do, say or become, and true motherhood exudes this!
Great mums are fiercely protective of their kids. Most mums always see the good in their children, despite what everyone else thinks, and sometimes despite the facts.
Mums want to believe in you, whether you believe in you or not. They see the good in their children, even if no one else does. Hitler’s mum Klara took him to church and wanted him to be a civil servant. Napoleon’s mum was married at 13 and accompanied him into exile on the island of Elba. Osama Bin Laden’s mum wanted him to stop fighting the west and come home to Saudi like a good boy. Donald Trump described his mum as smart as hell and he said he's had trouble finding women to marry who compare to his her!
I read about Ted Bundy’s mother Louise, who loved her son so much that she refused to believe he was a killer, until a series of death row confessions of 36 murders put the matter beyond doubt. These mums saw the best in their children when others saw them as tyrants and killers.
Mums believe in us when others give up on us. Mums always want the best for their kids and grandkids, as I bet every mum in this room does. So let me look at a few positive instances of motherly love and motherly faith.
St Augustine’s mother was a godly woman who lived around 350AD. She loved her wayward son, and the young Augustine lived with a girl and had an illegitimate child, then followed this by joining a heretical sect for 9 long years. He refused to listen to her, and she was so distraught she prayed and prayed and God gave her a dream that settled her heart, and then a mother's faith checked in.
A short time later Augustine came to Christ, and became one of the most significant church fathers of his generation! He was once lost, but then through a mother's faith he was found.
That's the great privilege of being a mother. Your faith is stronger, your love is stronger and God loves the faith of a mother! And He bestows not only faith but wisdom…
MUM’S WORDS OF WISDOM
My mother had a great deal if trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it… Mark Twain
My mother thinks I'm the best, and I was raised to always believe what my mama tells me… Diego Maradonna
Phyllis Dilla: I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford… then I want to move in with them!
Erma Bombeck: when your mother asks if you want a piece of advice, it's a formality. Whatever you answer, you're going to get it.
One mum said, My kids call it yelling when I raise my voice. I call it motivational speaking for selective listeners.
Another said, My nickname is mum. My real name is mum, mum, mum, mum!
Another quote I found which is what you have to put up with as a mum sometimes… Benjamin Spock: there are only 2 things a child will share willingly. Communicable diseases and their mother's age.
So that's mother's wisdom, let's zero in now on a mother's faith.
A MOTHER’S FAITH
Scripture has many examples of faithful mums, mums who made a difference in the lives of their children and even the world in which they lived. Moses’ mum is one example, placing him in the little basket in the bulrushes, then becoming his nanny when Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him. Rahab, whose faith saved her family. Mary, Elizabeth, Hannah even Deborah, who was described as the mother of Israel and led her troops to a great victory over Sisera.
But today I want to concentrate on one situation, recorded in Matthew 15, where the faith of a Canaanite woman saved and set her daughter free from demonic oppression.
The background to this passage is that Jews hated gentiles, and actually called them dogs! If you think right back to Joshua and Judges, these were the remnant of the evil nations that the conquering Israelites failed to dislodge. Jews considered them lower than a wombat’s basement.
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Mums, on this your special day, I want to speak directly to you and ask you about your children, your husband, your family and those you care about. We see in this story that the woman had plenty of obstacles, but she stood in the gap for her child. As I share around this passage, take a moment to think about someone you know in your family that isn't walking with the Lord…
1. THIS MOTHER TOOK A CHANCE
The Canaanite woman knew the social stigmas. I mean, she knew everything was against her…
Certainly her race was against her: She was a Gentile. Her sex was against her, because most Jewish rabbis paid little attention to women. It seemed that the disciples were against her, and even Christ’s words might have led her to believe that even He was against her.
She could have stopped, she could have given up even before she started… oh, it's all too hard!
But hey, it was her daughter we're talking about here. She decided not to give up on her child, and should you!
And sometimes we look at people we love who are not walking with the Lord and it all seems too hard! They're doing things we don't approve of, they're making bad decisions, they're breaking our hearts. They might even been attacking us or pulling away from us!
Listen mums, this mum took a chance, and I want to encourage you to do the same. Sure, our wayward kids may seem distant from you now, they may be ignoring your advice or rebelling, but the faith of a mother is worth much! This mother's faith won the day, so you need to take a chance and trust God!
2. THIS MOTHER ASKED THE QUESTION
This mother's faith drove her to ask the question. They may accuse you of being pushy or overbearing, but sometimes asking a simple question can make people think.
Sometimes even just a look will suffice. I remember being caught doing things as a kid, and mum didn't even have to say anything, she'd just look, and I'd know she knew. Mums do that!
Trust me, guys, you can't fool mum. Mother's know, they have wider fields of view and eyes in the back of their heads. They see everything l hear everything and read between the lines well. And trust me. I'm married to a mother who is a psychotherapist, sometimes more psycho that's therapist.
So this Canaanite mum asked the question…
And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”
Speaking to Jesus, she addressed Him as the Lord, the Son of David, a title which only the Jews used in speaking of the Messiah. Although Jesus was the Son of David, a Gentile had no right to approach Him on that basis. That is why He did not answer her at first.
So she had no right to approach, but she did it anyway. And that's the thing: a mother's faith will push through and ask the question, so mums, step up and ask for your wayward children… you'll be surprised at what God wants to do for you!
3. THIS MOTHER SUFFERED ATTACK
Listen ladies, if you step out and ask God, expect opposition. You might get it from your kids, you might get it from their dad, their partner, their friends, somebody. You will find your own feelings being attacked, periods when you even doubt that God hears you. It might even come from people in the church who don't believe with you. And just like this mum faced…
But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The disciples didn't want her around, and she may have even thought Jesus wanted her gone. But she stayed!
When you face attack, react like this mother of faith did! He came and she said…
But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”
And mums, I encourage you to just get real and honest with the Lord this morning. Today is Mother's Day, and I sense the heart of God for faithful mums right now. So get real, get honest and say with all your heart, “Lord help me.” I believe that the prayer of a mother's faithfulness for her kids and grandkids is going to be answered by God.
4. THIS MOTHER’S FAITH WAS TESTED
Jesus then decided to probe her faith.
And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”
Now it might sound a bit nasty, but in context Jesus wasn't having a shot at her at all. A little but of Hebrew comes in handy here…
You have to remember, she wasn't a Jew, she was a gentile. The Jews looked upon the Gentiles as scavenging dogs, prowling the streets for scraps of food. However, Jesus here doesn't use that particular word when He says dogs. Instead, He used the word for little pet puppies. He didn't call her a rabid street dog or mangy mongrel, He called her a little puppy.
The question was, “Would she take offence or acknowledge her unworthiness to receive the least of His mercies?”
Mums, don't take offence at anything that say and do, even your own kids. Love them, pray for them, believe for them and claim them for Jesus. I'd rather be offended and see my kids saved than silent and distant!
5. THIS MOTHER PERSISTED
This mum’s reply was not to crawl away and be insulted that Jesus tested her faith, but to press in and persist…
She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.”
In these few words she was humbling herself for the sake of her daughter. She was persisting and believing because she loved her child and wanted to see her set free.
She said, in effect, “You are right! I am only one of the little puppies under the table. But I notice that crumbs sometimes fall from the table to the floor. Won’t You let me have some crumbs? I am not worthy that You should heal my daughter, but I beg You to do it for one of Your undeserving creatures.”
Some of you mums here have prayed for years for your kids, and seen little result. Sometimes it seems so discouraging because they never seem to change, even into adulthood. Maybe they're lost in a bad relationship or substance abuse, maybe they are good people but they've crowded God out of their lives and have no time for Him.
Your see, you can be a really good person, a super nice guy, but when you die you'll miss going to eternity in heaven and be the nicest guy in hell. How nice you are, how good you are, how generous to charities or your kids you doesn't get you to heaven. The Bible is clear…
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Christian mums here today, you know that, and for many of you this truth leads you to pray for your wayward kids, whether they are successful corporate CEOs or cellar dwelling drug addicts. I want to urge you today to keep praying, to do like this lady did and never give up on your kids, grandkids and even husbands or exes. I can't change them, you can't change them, but God can. You must persist!
6. THIS MOTHER’S FAITH WAS REWARDED
And here's the thing. Jesus was so delighted with her persisting, He commended her!
Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Jesus commended her for her great faith. While the unbelieving children, the Jews, had no hunger for the bread, here was a self-confessed “doggie” crying out for it. A mother's faith was rewarded; her daughter was healed instantly. Interestingly Jesus never complimented the religious leaders or the disciples like this, only a gentile, despised woman.
And that, mums, is my challenge to you today. Whatever you are believing for with your family, partners, children or grandchildren, I believe that today is the day when you can stand and believe, and we want to stand with you.
In a moment, I'm going to ask all the mums to stand and come forward and let us pray for your wayward children, grandchildren or even husbands. Let's join together and believe for God to reward your mother's faith today!
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY… TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT, WHAT YOU REALLY, REALLY WANT?
The Spice girls said it, but I'm saying it today. So tell me what you want, what you really, really want! Today some of you got breakfast in bed, and many of you got presents, cute things, special things, things that are great but will never last. But I know the heart cry of many of you mums is the salvation of your children and grandchildren. That will last forever.
You may have been fighting for them in prayer for years, but I'm going to ask you to stand for them, and let us as a church fight together! If you as a mum have a child or grandchild on your heart and you are praying specifically for their salvation, I'm going to ask you to stand, come to the front and our elders will pray and believe with you for the greatest Mother's Day gift of all… your child coming to Christ.